Former Professional Wrestlers Sue League over Brain Damage

Several former professional wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) league have sued the league over allegations that the league was negligent in protecting the safety of wrestlers during televised matches. According to one national news source, the allegations stem from the league’s negligence in its policies regarding permitted wrestling moves that—while they drew the audience’s attention—put the wrestlers at great risk for serious head injury.

Evidently, the wrestlers claimed in the lawsuit that they have suffered severe neurological damage due to the repeated head injuries they sustained while wrestling for the WWE. Specifically, they are claiming that they suffer from headaches, memory loss, depression, hearing impairment, tremors, convulsions, and migraines.

The kinds of injuries sustained in wrestling are not unlike those sustained in other high-impact sports, such as football and boxing. And, like wrestling, leagues in those sports are also under legal scrutiny for their policies regarding concussions and head injuries. In fact, the NFL is currently in a prolonged lawsuit with approximately 5,000 former players who claim that they sustained serious and irreversible damage while playing for the NFL.

The WWE denies liability, stating that the suit is without merit and that the “WWE was well ahead of sports organizations in implementing concussion management procedures and policies as a precautionary measure as the science and research on this issue emerged.” The league has promised to “vigorously contest” the lawsuit.

However, one of the lawyers representing the former wrestlers told reporters that several years back there was a push for the league to seem increasingly “tough,” which has led to a decrease in the safety protocol followed by the wrestlers. For example, the force involved in the “chair shot”—which involves a chair being slammed against a wrestler’s head—used to be deflected by a raised hand on the part of the receiving wrestler. However, due to pressures in the league, the norm began to shift away from using a hand to deflect the force of the blow, resulting in a wrestler receiving the full force of the blow directly to his head.

In response to injuries suffered by wrestlers, it is alleged that the league downplayed injuries and encouraged wrestlers to get back on the mat. This furthered the “stay tough” mentality in the league, which perpetuated the dangers.

Have You Been Injured in a Workplace Accident?

To be sure, most of us are not professional wrestlers participating in the WWE. However, the same principles that the wrestlers are relying on in their lawsuit against the WWE apply to all employees. If an employer creates a dangerous workplace environment by discouraging the use of safety equipment, for example, that employer may be held liable if a worker is injured because he failed to use such equipment. If you have been injured in any kind of workplace accident in Maryland, contact a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney at 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation to discuss your injuries and get a free case evaluation.

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Change of Venue Ordered in Medical Malpractice Case; Impartial Jury Concerns Cited, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 1, 2014.

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